Last night my friend Ross and I went to a reading by one of my very favorite authors, Amy Bloom. Bethy, one of my closest high school friends, gave me one of her books when I was 17, and I quickly devoured Bloom’s soulful, delicate, psychologically rich short stories. I had wanted to see her read in New York when I was 19, interning at Newsweek, but my editor wanted me to stay late and find errant commas and spacing errors in that week’s proofs.
Basically I’d been waiting like 8 years to see this woman. So I was psyched, and soaked up several quick lessons from her talk:
1) Past the age of ten, our experiences reveal things about us rather than shape us. Characters can reveal themselves via their reactions to their experiences.
2) There’s a book called 36 Dramatic Situations. It’s a good book.
3) Dialogue shouldn’t read like normal conversation. It’s conversation’s greatest hits.
4) You’re either resilient, or you fall asleep in the snow and die.
5) Her path: Submit to a journal. Then another. Then another.
The crowd was mostly Jewish middle-aged women, for some reason, perhaps because this talk was sponsored by a Jewish literature nonprofit. I was a little surprised — Amy’s material is sometimes a little racy, and my biological clock shuddered a little as a petite 50-something woman with thinning hair asked about a story wherein the protagonist finds both a passionate lover and an understanding husband, and the whole triangle gets along swimmingly. Amy called this “a fairy tale for adults.”
I went up and talked to her after the reading because she also professed a love of theater. Since I happen to run a theater, I thought to myself: Self, go talk to this woman. It will be awkward and seemingly purposeless, but do it anyways. And I did. And she was gracious and lovely and said she truly wanted to stop by next time she’s in town. So maybe.
Afterwards, I downed a couple pints of Guinness and some awesome mac and cheese with Ross at a dive-y pub where the bartender sported a black eye, and all was right with the world.